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DJ Mr. Tree Interview

Dec 27, 2006

Adam a.k.a. Mr. Tree, is a 24 year-old DJ living in Vancouver, Canada. I have been lucky enough to catch him mixin' it up at a few gigs and parties. He even let me try my hand at it and let me tell you - it's not as easy as it looks. You only need to watch him for a minute to see that he's really passionate about music and lives to spin! Here's what he had to say about mixing...

How did you get into mixing?

"I got into mixing after trying out my friends decks; I instantly fell in love," Adam explains. "I like being able to take two good tracks and put them together to make an entirely new sound."

What do you get out of it?

"Well, as a hobby it's a form of refinement like any other. While there is no "perfect" way to mix two tracks, there are many technical aspects I enjoy working on and putting them together with the artistic end of it (what tracks to mix and where and on a larger scale the arrangement of a set) you get something very unique. It's similar to conducting a symphony, but on a much smaller scale of course."

What is the hardest thing to learn?

"I think the hardest thing to learn for most DJ's is beat matching. It is really important to mixing tracks and the better you are at it, the more time and thought you can put into the real part of DJ-ing, which is reading a crowd and deciding where you wanna take them with your music. Of course, once you've reached the point where beat matching isn't an issue, I think the hardest part would have to be learning the ability to mix any part of a record at any time, not just overlapping ends of songs."

Who are some of your favorite DJ's?

Not sure. I don't really listen to many, I guess. Though I'm not really into their music, technically speaking I think Max Graham and Sasha are extremely skilled. It's very refreshing to see guys that know what they're doing in the scene. Unfortunately, in this business it's who you know, more than what you know, so often you will see "big names" butchering tracks because they really don't know a lot about mixing. I guess they're just marketable or something, kinda like Britney Spears can't sing... but she's marketable," says Adam, laughing.

Can you name a couple of your favorite records to spin?

"Yeah. Definitely Peace Division's B U 4 T is my long time favorite, but every week or two (as I get new vinyl) my favorite songs change. Right now it would have to be Gourmet, Audio Soul Production, Substance Abuse and Tango and Electrik Soul Brothers, 6400 Crew Theme."

Did you start by renting equipment or did you go out and buy it?

"I bought it. Renting electronics is just bad news," Adam says.

How do you go about getting a gig?

"Hmm... you just have to be active in the scene and network, make contacts etc."

What does an average gig pay?

"Not sure really - it's varied for me. Big names make big bucks. My best paying gig was 150 bucks for 45 minutes," Adam explains.

What's the coolest thing that ever happened during a show?

"Well, there's nothing better than seeing people dancing and going off to music that you love. I enjoy it more and more each time. Also having someone verbally express their enjoyment to you after or during your set gives you a great feeling."

Can you name a couple of tips for someone getting started?

"Hmm... Get about $2,500 together for equipment. You can get turntables cheaper, but Technics are the best investment by far. And be prepared to give all your money away to the habit many people call "black crack". It's impossible to leave a record store when you've heard a track you like without buying it," Adam says and adds, laughing. "Really tough during rent days."

How many years have you been mixing for?

"I got my own gear just over a year ago, but I'd been practicing the technical stuff for close to two years prior. Having spent 14 years playing piano, and another several playing both bass guitar and trombone, I was a pretty quick study I guess. I'm definitely glad my parents pushed me to play those instruments because I don't know if I would enjoy music nearly as much not having benefited from those years of music practice and study."

If you've got a passion for spinning

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